November 26, 2010
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Letters to the Editor and other People Speak
There are three kinds of people on the internet you can’t have a conversation with: abortion activists, religious zealots and global warming activists.
Abortion activists, on both sides, are as polemical as polar bears and penguins. It doesn’t matter what side you might lean toward, the other side doesn’t want to hear. They believe so fervently in their cause they will judge you largely on how closely your own views align with theirs.
Next are the religious. The internet is a terrible place to go converting unbelievers, and thankfully few have tried. It’s only when the topic comes up as a point of contention that things can get ugly fast. The last thing anyone who believes in the man upstairs wants to be told is that the Chilean miners were freed by human technology rather than an act of omnipotent benevolence.
The last — and in my opinion the most fervent — believers are those who worship at the altar of anthropogenic global warming. These people are so obsessed with their cause you get the sense they would imprison unbelievers if they had the power. And that’s certainly been suggested by some of the high priests.
Otherwise likable, ordinary folks can turn suddenly pretentious and indignant if you so much as joke that a cold snap in Vancouver means global warming went on vacation. This is an affront to their very belief system, and they will quickly remind you that global warming can result in more snow and cold just as readily as it can result in more drought, desertification, sand storms, windstorms, pine beetles, floods, forest fires, and earthquakes.
It isn’t that I’m surprised anyone would believe in man-made climate change. It’s a readily accepted theory by a majority of people and the scientific community. I would, however, caution that we continue to use the word theory in discussing the topic.
“I don’t believe in global warming, I believe in the facts,” the zealot will pontificate proudly.
Well, sure, but that depends on what sort of facts you’re presenting. It’s difficult for a lot of people to believe the hype about global warming when scientists consistently get their predictions wrong. And sometimes the scientific community doesn’t just get it wrong; they don’t even come close.
Scientists had been warning for years about the extinction of salmon in British Columbia. In 2007 senior fisheries biologists in Ireland predicted pink salmon stocks on the mid-coast could soon be expected to collapse into localized extinction because of sea lice infestations.
This year 34 million salmon returned to the Fraser River for spawning, turning science on its head and leaving the prognosticators running for their labs. Expert who had predicted 1.5 million salmon or less were left more than a little puzzled.
It’s now suggested many of the salmon extinction reports were spread by activists hoping to damage the concept of B.C. salmon farms for moralistic reasons rather than scientific ones.
The green fundamentalists who call for an immediate restructuring of post-industrialized civilization to cater to their theories are absurd individuals. They will shun you for disagreement, and even blacklist you for the audacity of unbelieving. I have met more humourless, fanatical, devoted environmentalist demagogues than I have of the religious equivalent.
Curiously, the punishment they promise unbelievers is death by flood, drought or starvation. It’s like reading the book of Revelation.
The best thing to do when somebody goes on about the Armageddon is to smile, nod approvingly, and change the subject. Otherwise you risk the possibility of being called a heretic and burned at the metaphorical stake.
I have a live and let live attitude. If you want to believe that glacial meltwater spells the doom of the planet, so be it. Just don’t force me to wear the uniform and march in the parades with you.
Adrian MacNair is a Vancouver writer and blogger